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Old 07-04-2017, 01:02 PM   #1
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Water Heater Won't Release Hot Water

Hi friends, I'm new to RVing but not to plumbing and electrical, so feel free to get as technical (or not) as you wish.

I have a Suburban gas/electric hot water heater that won't release hot water from the tank. I've been living here for about three weeks now, and it worked fine at first. But a few days ago, suddenly nothing.

This model has only one bypass valve. I've tried it in both positions for fun. When in bypass position, cool water flows from the hot tap. When in normal position, nothing comes out of the hot tap at all (cold water still flows fine).

The tank is absolutely full and heating, just not releasing any hot water. The hot water pipe never warms to the touch, no matter how long I leave the tap open.

I'm on day three of sweating in the Texas heat with no proper shower. Please save me. Thanks for taking time to help.
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Old 07-04-2017, 01:16 PM   #2
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Sounds like your hot water line from the heater is plugged by either debris or a failed closed valve. Do you have a hot water isolation valve with a handle or is it a check valve? (There are at least 5 versions of water heater valves - see attached plumbing pic. Since you said you have a "bypass valve" I'm guessing you have either option #1 or option #5.) Note that since you're not getting any water, your blockage could actually be on either the cold inlet or the hot outlet. Either one would prevent flow.

First thing I would try is to drain and refill the heater and see if that helps. You'll need a 1-1/16" socket and a ratchet/breaker bar to remove the anode rod to drain it.
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File Type: pdf RV Plumbing pic.pdf (194.9 KB, 110 views)
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Old 07-04-2017, 06:16 PM   #3
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Sounds to me like you have #4 in the graphic rockfordroo posted.
If that's the case, we've seen the check valves seize closed and then no water at all will come out of the water heater. I'd check that to see if it's the problem.
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Old 07-04-2017, 06:38 PM   #4
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Water Heater Won't Release Hot Water

Hey y'all, thanks so much for the great info. It's all incredibly helpful. My setup is indeed #4, and now I know where to focus my efforts.

Thanks again! Happy 4th!
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Old 07-04-2017, 06:45 PM   #5
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Anyway you can post a pic behind your water heater. Sometimes a valve is hard to see and can be missed.
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Old 07-04-2017, 08:04 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wmtire View Post
Anyway you can post a pic behind your water heater. Sometimes a valve is hard to see and can be missed.


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This is the only accessible part of the system, aside from the external panel. The valve I can see is near the bottom of the photos.
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Old 07-05-2017, 02:49 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shannonlee View Post
Attachment 143676Attachment 143677

This is the only accessible part of the system, aside from the external panel. The valve I can see is near the bottom of the photos.
Excellent pictures, Shannon. That helps so much, and also confirms everything being stated.

As Rockfordroo and Bama Rambler have stated, it does sound like you have a one way check valve at the top of the water heater clogged or faulty.

With the system you have, and the one bypass valve, it works by either allowing cold water into the heater tank....or if you switch the position it allows cold water into the bypass position and into the hot water line thus bypassing the tank.

At the very top of the tank, where the hot water line is plumbed coming out of the tank, there is an internal check (aka backflow preventer) valve. This allows the hot water to only flow one way OUT of the tank and also keeps cold water from backflowing into the tank when you have that bypass valve at the bottom set to bypass.

Your bypass seems to be working correct, since you stated you are getting cold water out of the hot water lines, when you set it to bypass. This is how it works, so when you winterize the system, you can add antifreeze to the cold water line, and it will also go into the hot water lines to also protect them from freezing up and bursting.

The fact you aren't getting hot water out of the tank, seems to indicate that the backflow/internal check valve is clogged or faulty. Also the fact you said it was working, then not, also indicates a failure there.

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There also exists a very small possibilty, and I can't really see well enough on the pics, you could also have an internal one way backflow valve on the bottom cold water inlet line going into the tank. If there was a bad internal one way valve there, then since no cold water could enter the tank, there would be no pressure to push the hot water out of the tank at the top. I'm only pointing this out in case. I still think your problem is at the top hot water outlet though, and looking at your first pic does seem to indicate that it's brass plumbing is different than the bottom.



You sound like a pretty good DIY type, and should be able to get this solved. Just a reminder before attempting to work on this, to shut off the water to the system and relieve the pressure. Did I mention to relieve the pressure? Just wanted to make sure I did, as sometimes people forget to relieve the pressure. It's real fun (NOT) to have an anode rod shoot out like a arrow being fired out of a crossbow because somebody forgot to relieve the pressure. I'm not saying I did that (but I'm not saying I didn't either).

Also if you do drain the tank and have an electric heating element, make sure it's turned off before draining so you don't burn it up.

As a side note, we have some pretty good Suburban water heater videos in this link below, that you may want to watch/bookmark for future reference.

http://www.forestriverforums.com/for...es-135977.html
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Old 07-05-2017, 12:42 PM   #8
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"It's real fun (NOT) to have an anode rod shoot out like a arrow being fired out of a crossbow because somebody forgot to relieve the pressure. "

Half way across the neighbour's driveway. Glad I was standing to the side. Oh yah, just remembered, that wasn't me
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Old 07-05-2017, 03:36 PM   #9
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Another to check if the inlet is a problem is:
SHUT THE PROPANE/ELECTRIC TO THE WATER HEATER
Wait until the water heater cools
Lift the toggle on the heater water relief valve
If a good flow of water comes of the relief, the inlet connection is OK, and your is on the heater outlet.

Rick
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Old 07-05-2017, 03:48 PM   #10
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I understand what you are saying Rick, but there should be an air pocket on the top of the inside of the tank, if the water is above the relief valve, it will at times stop the flow of water. I usually shut off the water, open the drain to the hot water under the belly, then open the relief valve to make sure I hear gurgling, close the relief, then the drain valve, then turn water back on, then test hot water line at one of the faucets. Hope you resolve it soon.
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Old 07-05-2017, 11:25 PM   #11
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Water Heater Won't Release Hot Water

Thanks to all of your excellent advice, I have hot water again! I just took out the guts of the check valve (which seemed to be in pretty bad shape) for now, and the hot water is flowing like a tiny river of happiness and warmth.

Thank you sooo much! I'll be back with more questions as soon as a new involuntary project presents itself.
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Old 07-05-2017, 11:57 PM   #12
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You might want to replace the check valve with a real valve. IMHO, I think a real valves reliability is better than the check valves reliability.
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Old 07-06-2017, 07:41 AM   #13
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I'm glad you got it figured out. And even more glad that you came back and let us know what you found.

As said above, I'd install a regular 'hot water rated' check valve at the outlet of the tank.
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Old 07-06-2017, 12:57 PM   #14
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That's a great idea. Exactly what I'll do.
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Old 07-06-2017, 04:51 PM   #15
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I'm glad you got it figured out. And even more glad that you came back and let us know what you found.

As said above, I'd install a regular 'hot water rated' check valve at the outlet of the tank.
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That's a great idea. Exactly what I'll do.
I'd go with a manual valve, not another check valve.
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